Radio: Across The Ditch on NZ Govt off-loading state houses + Spies warn of cyber extortion

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Five AA Australia: Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly programme Across the Ditch.

Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.
Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning.

This week they discuss the New Zealand Government intensifying its plan to off-load state housies across the country. Also discussed is how the government’s signals spies have warned how NZ companies are vulnerable to cyber extortion! – Captured Live on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/evening-report-nz

ITEM ONE:
(Ref. https://eveningreport.nz/2015/05/06/national-led-government-offloads-more-state-houses-to-private-community-housing-providers/)

The pace of the National-led Government’s push to sell off state houses is fast gaining a momentum.

On Wednesday the Finance a minister Bill English confirmed between 1000 to 2000 state owned houses in the cities of Tauranga and Invercargill will be off-loaded to the private community housing provider (CHP) sector.

It appears the National-led Government is determined to divorce itself from state housing assistance and provision.

It is an ideological response to the Government’s unwillingness to commit budget to long overdue maintenance of state owned housing stock. The Nationals have a three decades old tradition of removing government from any responsibility for the delivery of social service and provision to communities.

Yesterday, the Finance Minister said he believed people were better served by organisations located within their own communities.

He believes Community Housing Provider companies, owned by both private interests and non government organisations were better placed to purchase and maintain housing stock and manage tenancies than were government departments.

The structure of the plan resembles in some ways what the previous National government did in the 1990s, where it set up commercial entities to deliver health services throughout the country. Public hospitals were then transformed into Crown Health Enterprises, their publicly elected governing boards were dissolved and government business appointees and CEOs were inserted. Patients became clients, and both out patients and inpatients were forced into capped user pays obligations. If you didn’t pay, the debt collectors were called in.

Since April last year, Government-registered CHPs have been eligible to receive the Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS), previously only available for people living in HNZ houses.

But the Government fails to convince that it possesses an enduring commitment to income related rents. The Community Housing Provider companies face considerable renovation and maintenance costs to bring much of the housing stock up to a liveable standard. Clearly these businesses will need to recover their costs and are lively to do so through lifting the cost of rents to market rates.

And as we all know, market rates for housing in New Zealand’s main cities is among the highest among the OECD countries.

ITEM TWO:

New Zealand companies are becoming victims of extortion, according to the Government’s communications spy agency the GCSB.

According to specialist cyber spies attached to the National Cyber Security Centre, a division of the Government’s GCSB state “unnamed organisations” had been told via email that if they didn’t pay up they would experience a “sustained denial-of-service attack” that would knock them offline.

Through a Fairfax report, the spies said the blackmailers had followed up their threats with “short duration” attacks, lasting up to an hour. This apparently was a demonstration by the cyber crooks that they meant business.

Denial of service attacks do occur reasonably frequently. At times sustained and powerfully coordinated attacks can take sites and business offline for considerable periods of time. Only last week, TheDailyBlog website fell victim to such a brute force attack which brought the site down for just short of one day.

This attack occurred only days after it broke the story of how the Prime Minister, John Key, had harassed a young woman working in a cafe by repeatedly pulling her ponytail during visits over a seven month period.

I can confirm however, no threat or extortion note had been delivered to TheDailyBlog editor or owners! A cynic would suggest motivations for forcing the site offline were more political than criminal…

Across the Ditch broadcasts live weekly on FiveAA Australia and webcasts on EveningReport.nz, LiveNews.co.nz, ForeignAffairs.co.nz.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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